Category Archives: Travels

Staying out of touch while traveling

When you are traveling, sitting in an airplane or walking through an airport, have you ever shivered when you think about all the places people put their yucky fingers? Thousands of people from lots of different places. People who are not perhaps as fastidious about washing their hands as I am? People touching lots of handrails, doorhandles, parts of the plane’s interior, etc.

Well the folks at TravelMath conducted a small study to assess the level of colony-forming units of bacteria on various surfaces in airports and airplanes. The results are shown in TravelMath’s infographic at the right.

My interpretation: Take wipes and hand sanitizer to address issues with

  • Tray tables,
  • Overhead vents, and
  • Seat buckles.

I’m already accustomed to grabbing a towel to flush the toilet in airplane lavatories. I use my elbow for the levers on urinals when they require flushing, and I simply avoid stalls in airport restrooms.

You might find full report at TravelMath worth reading. There’s a description of the study methods as well as a discussion of issues regarding boarding times’ effects on cleaning.

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Filed under Eco-stuff, News, Thanks for reading, Travels

Year-end run

I’ve been visiting southern California for the end of the year. In Pasadena, where I’m staying, it’s the time of the year for Rose Festival preparations. They’re in full swing, with bleachers on Colorado Blvd. and Orange Grove (though I’ve not been there to see them).

For my last run of the year, I left my mother’s place in Pasadena about 6:20 AM on this morning with a plan to lollygag along surface streets for about 2.6 miles to the Arroyo Seco, go down into the Rose Bowl area, reconnoiter the preparations for the pending football game there, then return along Colorado Blvd. so I could see about the preparations for the tomorrow’s Rose Parade. Although the temperatures were in the 30s and I hadn’t brought my cold-weather clothing, I figured I could manage the cold by wearing two t-shirts and the shell I had brought along and use some rolled up socks for my hands that I found in my pockets (trusty tube socks from the Motorola Marathon in Austin some time in the mid-90s).

As it turned out, I was correct about the clothing, but wrong about the distance. I was warm enough. But, as sometimes happens, by the time I had gone the first couple of miles, my ambitions were bigger than my legs. Remembering a long-ago run with friends Tracey and Skip (when I was in much better condition and, of course, much younger), I elected to circumnavigate the Rose Bowl. I’d forgotten that to get around the Rose Bowl, one had go around half of the Brookside golf course, too, and doing so required a 5K run. So, I tacked on an extra ~3 miles to my run, not just an extra mile. Instead of a manageable six, I wound up with something between a happy-but-taxing eight and nine.

But it was fun to remember the good times with my friends, to see the old sights, to ponder the preparations for the throngs of people who would be in the area the next day, and to get back to the place of my departure with some good-tired legs.

So, that’s my year-end report. I’m having to back date it now, as the return travel delayed the actual final editing and posting. But there it is.

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Filed under Memories, News, Running, Travels

Locals’ and tourists’ photos


Washington, DC, USA

Eric Fischer posted a fascinating series of images on his Flickr account, WalkingSF. Using geotag data from photographs that are accessible via Flickr and Picassa, Mr. Fischer created maps that show the locations of photos taken by people presumed to be residents or visitors to cities around the world. I find the results fascinating.

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Filed under Amusements, Travels

Travel photos

I’ve begun to review the many 100s of photos that Pat and I took during our recent visit to Hong Kong and Taiwan. So far I’ve posted a couple of sets on Flickr from the Hong Kong portion of our trip. I’ve made them accessible not only to family and friends, but also to the public. As a consequence, those one or two of you who are not family can see my goofy grin:

I’ll be working on additional photo sets. Meanwhile, one can scroll down to see some incidental posts about the trip.

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Filed under Amusements, Travels

Daos on parade in Kaohsiung

Parade feature at Kaohsiung restaurant

During dinner tonight (Sun the 6th here in Asia), we heard a tremendous assortments of fireworks and saw the restaurant staff exiting the front door. Our friend and local resident said that there was a parade coming to the restaurant. We hastened outside to watch, and I filmed some of the events. The accompanying image is extracted from one of the video clips, so it’s not particularly clear.

The parade came in three waves, each with a musical ensemble, dancers, and a brightly-lit portable alter. Loud! Fireworks. Loud! Music. Mostly youths seemed to be carrying the alters as if they were sedan chairs. A team with wheeled generators trailed each alter.

The restaurant staff stood in ranks on the sidewalk between the restaurant door and the curb. They held their hands together in front of their chests, bowed, burned incense, and watched intently. The dancers, musicians, and alter carriers came up to the curb. The restaurant people gave offerings (rice wine and cigarettes, we learned later) to them. In the image, one of three oversized dancers from the second troupe approaches the cooking staff, represented by the man in the white chef’s jacket at the bottom right.

Apparently, this was an opportunity to hope for a good harvest in the future. Quite an event!

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Filed under Amusements, Atheism, Food, Travels

Taitung toad: 24 hours in a toe box

Yesterday (it is Tue here, even though the post will appear with a Mon time stamp), I packed my running shoes for our move from a home-stay (inn or B&B), stuffing them with extra socks and underwear to conserve space. This morning, I pulled out the clothing to use the shoe and, when I put my foot in the shoe, I found there was something still in it.

Somewhere in northern Taitung, while my running shoes were on a front porch, one of the shoes apparently became a haven for a toad. He or she was sharing the toe box with my toes, poor thing. When I reached into the shoe and pulled it out, I was surprised, and I dropped it. Pat said, “Poor toad.”

I lifted her or him into a plastic bag and we set about finding a place to release the animal. There is a temple next door to our current digs, so we took it there for release. This is a photo of the transferred toad. I wonder if it will alter the gene pool in its new neighborhood, which is about 20-25 kilometers from its former neighborhood.

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Green Island #1

Soon after arriving on Green Island, a rustic spot about 50 ferry minutes to the east of Taitung (TW), our new friend Hsin-Ning took us to the restaurant shown in the accompanying image for lunch. (Check the wooden Native Americans to the right of the entrance!)

We three shared a large table near the rear of the place with another group of four. The table was made from a huge, irregularly shaped, thick piece of rough-hewn wood, so there was room for 3-4 more people between our two groups. The back wall was completely glass, so we could look back across the thin strip of the Pacific toward Taitung. (I have not yet ever tired of watching water, much as I can monitor the flames of a fire for long periods of time.) That experience was pretty nice.

What was even nicer was the food, though. We had a big (大) plate of sashimi (huge would be more like it) that was tongue tender; steamed dragon tentacles (veg) with garlic; shrimp flash-fried in some very light, sweet dusting of something; a couple of other dishes; and rice (naturally). We finished with watermelon and a specialty desert. Ultra-fresh and simply prepared so that the foundational item shone. Yumm!

Green Island is a pretty nifty spot. Motorscooters and bicycles probably outnumber automobiles in about the ratio one could derive by counting them in the picture; there are many tourists here who have rented scooters and are circumnavigating the island in pods of 10-12. The main road that goes around the island has an advertisement for a pending marathon, which looks to have a pretty nifty course.

There’s plenty to see and do, enough to merit a couple of days, though we’re staying only about 24 hours. We have the good fortune of having Hsin-Ning—a native and probably one of only a few, if any natives, with a Ph.D.—guiding us.

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